Estimating solar electric power system cost

How much does it cost to install a solar electric power system?

Cost of solar system determined by multiple factors and total expenses primary depend on purchasing price of the system itself and cost of labor to perform installation. Photovoltaic (PV) system type, size, roof pitch, existing roofing materials and overall difficulty of work during installation are the main aspects which affect gross expenditures to get a new solar power electric system installed.

Estimating solar power system cost

Equipment and materials prices


Cost of solar panels with multiple cells, which convert photons to electrons or simply change sunlight to electricity, is the major material expense. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient and widely used, but they are typically the most expensive. Polycrystalline panels or modules are cheaper, but they are less efficient. Thin film modules which consist amorphous silicon or copper indium gallium selenide (C. I. G. S.) solar energy cells work effectively in shady locations, but they need much more space for installation compare to first two types of solar panels. In addition, thin film modules might be more expensive compare to rigid panels.

Purchasing solar panels, mounting hardware, racking, power inventers, batteries for electricity storage and all materials for completing electric wiring typically range from 45% to 55% of total solar electric power system installation expenses.

Labor cost to install solar power system


Grid-tied solar power system is much cheaper to install compare to off-grid system because most of wiring in the house was already done. In case solar power electric system will be the only source of energy in the home all electrical work should be done from scratch what will result not only in labor cost increase, but materials expenses will be higher as well.

Another important aspect in labor cost determination is a difficulty of solar panels installation. Lifting 35 – 40 solar panels which weight about 3 – 4 lbs per each square foot and cover 650 ft2 – 700 ft2 of space on high slope roof of 3 story house could be a very time consuming process and cost of labor will be significantly higher compare to same modules installation on a flat roof or wide open yard if possible.

Shopping for a new solar power electric system


Purchasing a new solar electric power system is not an easy task and you must adequately evaluate every single aspect from local weather conditions and orientation of house to actual energy consumption and existing home electric wiring before choosing an appropriate system which satisfy your needs.

Theoretically, homeowners can buy any size and type solar power electric system online and get it delivered to home address, but such option might work well only in case you know how to choose the correct system. Practically, local PV system installers price new system installation including equipment, all additional materials, and cost of labor.

Installation time


Normally, installation of 6kW grid-tied electric solar system which will work with maximum effectiveness and produce enough electricity for 2,100 ft2 house takes about a week for an experienced PV system installer. Depending on a system siting and condition of an existing electric system in the house, installation time can increase or decrease, and actual number of man-hours for completing the project will be estimated only after analyzing difficulty of work.

Work complexity


Some 100 – 250-Watt off-grid solar electric system panels which can power small appliances certainly can be installed as do-it-yourself project. But if you are unfamiliar with local codes or do not know the difference between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) flow of electric range for proper wiring and connecting 5 kW solar electric system to the grid do it yourself installation should be out of any considerations. Hiring an experienced electrician who specializes in solar electric power installation will always insure work quality and guaranty adequate system performance.